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A Star-Studded Welcome

August 24, 2010

At sunrise exercise this morning I had dipped my head down into the bright underwater sky.  Little Jellyfish everywhere.  New to the island, I perked my head up, alarmed.  Treading water slightly quicker, I asked David whether the little creatures dotting the water below us were of any concern.

“They just sting a little,” he replied.

“They’re like the mosquitoes of the sea.”

They have a mosquito for everywhere here, I think to myself.

Later that day, I can chart the mosquito bites, from ankle to knee: from “Orion’s Belt of Irritation” to “The Southern Cross of Misery”  There is “Scratchy Major” and also “Scratchy Minor.” I sit at my new desk, in my new office, in my new home, at The Island School, navigating my celestial star-studded skin.  My calf and shin tingle with trepidation, as I hold back, because as we all know: itching only makes it worse.  I let my mind wander into the space across my skin, thinking of the starry sky we studied last night, on a star-gazing walk, on the most star-streaked night of the annual Perseids meteor shower.

The night before, we had sat in the sand and watched with wonderment as flashes peaked through the darkness at us: elusive, fleeting, magical.  I wished upon each one.  But leave it to a math teacher to make it all more practical, Matt began with a lesson in celestial navigation.  He made the earth into a compass, oriented toward the North Star, measured out degrees, and then asked how far I would sail in which direction, mindfully noting, just where on earth we were.  I imagined the planet like a figure someone would use to measure a hypotenuse, a form with axis wrought with dimension.  Degrees defined, just waiting for me to find my path.

And I thought of your path, my new students’ paths, arriving in just weeks, and of the degrees and directions that would bring them here.  I thought of the navigating, planning and preparation that they must be negotiating.  And I wondered if any of them looked to the stars for direction, as they would soon learn to.

As the stars passed, flashed, and disappeared, I wished on each one.  And I made these wishes for them, our students, as they come:

May your goodbyes be sweet promises for future hellos;

May your bags be packed perfectly, holding all you will need;

May your last moments at home be calm, precious, and pristine;

May your travels be safe and guided by the stars;

May your mosquito bites be minimal,

and if not, may you have the power to not scratch them.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Leah Rumbough permalink
    August 24, 2010 5:59 pm

    Wow, Ashley, you write beautifully! (and so thoughtfully, too) I hope these next couple of weeks go as smoothly and sweetly as you suggest! From your lips…

    Safe travels, and best of luck to everyone for a great new fall season! We look forward to regularly hearing about all your wonderful adventures!
    Warmly,
    Leah Rumbough
    (aka, Allegra’s mom)
    >’)))><

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